Abby Lunardini: 40 Under 40 2012

MD for digital, Mercury Public Affairs
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Abby Lunardini is a real high flyer. With 15 years experience in media relations,PR, and public affairs, she piloted corporate communications for Virgin America since before takeoff in 2007.

Last month, her career took off on a new course as she became an MD at Mercury Public Affairs. At Virgin, she not only oversaw all aspects of traditional communications for the airline during a time of tremendous growth, but Lunardini also spearheaded the company’s award-winning social media presence. She secured multiple top-tier placements and major brand partnerships while leading attention-grabbing PR efforts, such as an inflight wedding officiated by Richard Branson on the airline’s first Las Vegas flight.

Sharp, creative, and motivated, she is known for staging "incredible events," including a tandem flight by an Airbus 320 and Virgin Galactic Spaceship to celebrate the opening of a new terminal at San Francisco Airport with special guests including astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Lunardini served as primary media spokeswoman for the company and has always been adept at managing press on complex, high-profile topics, including environmental, financial, and safety issues.

She also led all community and public affairs efforts, including the development of corporate social responsibility initiatives such as innovative partnerships with Knowledge is Power Program schools and the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up to Cancer campaign.

"In my career, both in-house and in an agency, Abby is by far the most talented and hard-working person I have ever worked with," says Katie Baynes, PR manager at mobile payments company Square.

Before joining Virgin America, she served as the special assistant for executive communications for then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). Other previous roles include positions in media and government relations at the University of California Office of the President and assistant field representative for US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

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